Poetry & Prose : A KIND OF LOOKING BACK AND OTHER POEMS

Bibhu Padhi

A KIND OF LOOKING BACK

Small print: I think I know
you will betray me
again, and I’ll feel alone.

Daughter of now:
the wild hills of Dhenkanal*, 
have failed to comfort me. 

Daughter: I’ve seen smiles
mellowing over
years of a quiet loss.

My gypsy heart
longs for a retreat. 
 

SUMMER, DHENKANAL

Summer: You are just about here,
somewhere, yet wouldn’t come.

How do I call you in?

It always seems as if my voice
is too low for the seasons,
their arrivals, departures.

They will not come,
will not go.

Summer: I shall not
call you now, when

the erratic February
rains are here.

May you come following
your very own wishes.

Your body, your breath.

Summer: I can

almost see you now.

 

WAITING THROUGH THE NIGHT

Now, almost morning. It is difficult
to know how to steer through
the day’s long cleverness.

A vague pain from last night
is everywhere even now-- 
over the earth, the sky, this body.

Even last evening’s whiskey
with friends, was too weak
to bring in sleep.

I asked my lady of Puri-on-Sea
to sit with me through the night,
listen to my invented tales.

Our intelligent, teenage son
will not listen to my
request for company.

 

TRANSPARENT BLUE

The sky is clear.
No movement of clouds.
No clouds.

I ask my companion:
“Where’re you taking me,
beyond the sky, the stars?”

And she answers:
“Whenever I see a flower of
translucent blue, I remember you.”

I tell her: “You need not go from here
to elsewhere, need not take me
beyond the transparent blue.”

And, from some place where
the winds are not there, and
a medieval stillness reigns, she says:

“Haven’t you seen me? I stay so close
to where you do. Shouldn’t you know

I am lonely too, just like you?”

 

GARDENER

What if you don’t care?

Every leaf knows how I feel,
every bird and bud, every human
pathway in between hedge-rows.

What if you don’t know,
or rather wouldn’t, for reasons
best known to you?

I needn’t speak to you.
Each small thing in your garden
will speak for me.

Every small thing has laid itself
bare, my gardener!

 

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*Dhenkanal is a small town in central Orissa, a state on the east coast of India
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Bibhu Padhi has published eight books of poems. His poems have appeared in distinguished magazines throughout the English-speaking countries, such as Indian Literature, The Illustrated Weekly of India, Quest, Contemporary Review, Encounter, The Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, The Rialto, Stand, New English Review,  New Letters, New Criterion, Poetry (Chicago), Prairie Schooner, Southwest Review, The Literary Review, TriQuarterly, the Antigonish Review and Queen’s Quarterly. They have been included in numerous anthologies, two of the most recent being 60 Indian Poets (Penguin) and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry. He is Chiaroscuro Magazine's Asia Editor for Poetry and Prose.

 
Illustration: 'Yellow Light'; Acrylic on canvas, by Helen Annobil 2011

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